Friday 21 October 2011

The Druid.


Loyally and Lovingly Dedicated by Mil. Punch to  
H.RH. Princess Louise.

If there’s a spirit of the tree, as fair Greek fable tells.
And the green blood of the Dryad is the sap of acorn-bells,
Not death, but higher life, befalls the Nymphs of the oak-trees
That are squared and shaped, and set to frame the .ships that rule the
And they were not doleful Dryads, but exulting ones that spread
Their unseen wings for shelter of Louise's gracious head,
As she faced the nipping March wind, like a daughter of the sea,
To christen the last war-ship that from Deptford launched will be.
Lift high the wine, sweet Princess, and with blood-red baptism crown,
The bows, slow creeping streamwards, as the dog-shores are struckdown:
And, fit name for last heart of oak that from Deptford-slips shall glide, Bid " God speed" to The Druid, as she curt'sies to the tide.
"tis the last launch from Deptford: the old yard has had its day;
Times change and war-ships with them: oak yields to iron's sway:
There are wider slips and statelier sheds, and broader quays elsewhere,
And Wisdom says "concentrate," and Thrift says "save and spare."
Deptford is now a frowsy place, ill-smelling, dank and low,
Where muddy banks are eat away by a foul stream's festering flow:
Where low Vice haunts and flaunts, and flares, fed full on sailors' gains,
And threatening them with surer wreck than all lee-shores or mains.
But the Deptford that we look on, to whose yard we bid good bye,
Was once the Deptford, where, in pride. The Great Harry wont to lie;
Whore, lusty King to lordly ship, from his Greenwich palace near,
Bluff King Hal among his shipwrights showed broad breast and face
of cheer.
With delicate Anne Boleyn upon his brawny arm—
Lamb and Lion,—monarch's majesty, enhancing woman's charm—
To mark, well-pleased, how in his yard the work sped swift along,
From fair keel to tall top-side of swift pink and carrack strong.
And rapid ran the Ravensbourne, a cleanly country stream,
Glassing in its bright bosom, brave attire, and banners' gleam,
When, fene'd in tower of jewelled ruff and tun of pearled robe,
Came good Queen Bess to welcome Captain Drake from round the

'Twas in this very Deptford creek was drawn The Golden Hind,
Fragrant with spices of New Spain, rich with heap'd spoils of Ind,
As to bold Queen bold Buccaneer knelt on his own deck-board
Plain Captain Drake, and rose again Sir Francis from her sword.
'Twas in Deptford yard, from reign to reign, the Petts * their credit
won, Handing their craft of ship-builder from famous sire to son; To Deptford smug Sam Pepys took boat, in Charles's thriftless day, To note "how still our debts do grow, and our fleet do decay."
And hither, from the fair-trimmed yews and hollies of Sayes Court,
Came a burly, bull-necked Muscovite, for labour and disport;
Sturdy swinker, lusty drinker; king with king, and tar with tar,
The Northern Demiurgus, Russ Prometheus, Peter Tzar.
Richer in slips and stores and sheds, there be other yards, I trow,
But none more rich in memories. Old Deptford yard, than thou.
It was well done and worthily of a Princess fair and sweet,
To christen the last war-babe, born of thee into our fleet.
And may The Druid ne'er disgrace the parentage she'owns,
Or mar the glorious memories that spring from Deptford stones:
May she bear her worthy England, and the white hand that but now
Has dashed the wine of baptism upon her shapely bow!

• The Petts wore the hereditary ship-builders of the English navy from the days of James The FiRst to those of James The Second.


Anonymous said...

Hi Andy

Great Poem to read. Its interesting how reading about the past it tends to jog ones memory about things apparent this day and age. Particularly "The Petts" ship builders and "Petts Wood" in Kent. This was probably where a lot of Oak was felled for the ships of the line.? maybe.

Andy said...

Spot on John! That's where the name comes from.

Peter Pett, Master Shipwright of Deptford, was granted a Coat of Arms in 1563. His son, Joseph Pett of Limehouse, succeeded his father as Master Shipwright before Peter's death in 1605. Joseph surveyed the timber for the construction of a ship named Sovereign of the Seas, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Hoborn, another shipwright and churchwarden at Chatham. Joseph died in 1652, aged about 60. Joseph's son, the second Peter Pett, carried on the private family business of shipbuilding at Wapping. Joseph's other son, also named Joseph, became the master carpenter employed at Chatham in 1643 by the then Earl of Warwick.

Another son of the first Peter Pett was Richard Pett, who raised his son (Peter of Deptford (1593–1652) and the third Peter Pett) to be a shipwright. The sons of this Peter Pett were Phineas (a captain in the Royal Navy) and another Peter (the fourth).

This fourth Peter was baptised in St Nicholas' Church in 1630, and was later educated in St Paul's School and Sidney Sussex College of Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1645. He then graduated to Pembroke College, Oxford, and in 1648 was elected to a fellowship at All Soul's College. He was bachelor of civil law to Gray's Inn from 1657 to 1658, and was knighted in 1661, after which he sat as a Member of Parliament for Askaeton in the Irish Parliament. He was called to the bar in 1664, as a barrister in law of the Middle Temple, and one of the original Fellows of the Royal Society in 1663, from which he was later expelled in 1675 for "not performing his obligations to the society". He also became Advocate-General in Ireland, before his death in 1699. Peter was a learned author and many of his manuscripts have survived him.

Shipbuilders. This family had been in the trade since the reign of Edward VI and owned woodlands in Kent (Petts Wood) which provided timber. Peter was master shipwright until his death in 1589 followed by his son Joseph. Phineas Pett was born at Deptford Strand in 1570 and lodged in Deptford Green. He worked on the Ark Royal and Drake’s ship. His nephew, another Peter, introduced the frigate to the English Navy. He died in 1652 and has a memorial on the north wall in St Nicholas Church.

Extract from Wiki.

shipwright's palace said...

Andy said...

Sorry Shipwrights ..didn't know you posted it..

ian said...

Today descendent of the Family is Ian Petts (the s) was added as so many of them that the Royal Navy admitted they gave up determining who was who, even though they were so close it was said even the devil could not split them up. Ian has been a Finance Director of companies that built a couple of the worlds biggest Royal yachts whilst at YCO and Hill Robinson and is now Head of Yachting and Aviation at Equiom Trust Group.